Brighton sewers

October 30, 2017

Photo by Adam Bronkhorst

 

“Brighton’s sewer is huge,” says Sharon Holdstock, Customer Engagement Officer at Southern Water. “Ordinary sewers are about four inches wide, so these are an absolute anomaly. When the Victorians built them, they were planning for the next 500 years.” And yet, she explains, despite the fact we’re a long way off reaching this time limit, blockages are becoming more and more common throughout the city’s sewer network. 


Part of the problem is the increased concentration of waste coming through the smaller pipes which connect our homes to the large underground sewers. “A lot of the buildings in Brighton would originally have been owned by one household and they would probably only have had one toilet,” Sharon says, “whereas now, most of those Victorian buildings have been split into apartments, and quite often each of those apartments has two toilets in it, so the capacity that the sewers are taking is significantly higher than when they were built. If people don’t stick to the ‘pee, poo and paper only’ rule, that’s when we start getting the issues.” The ‘Three Ps’ are part of a campaign by Southern Water to educate the public on what should be flushed down the toilet and what should not.


“One of the most common problems is wipes,” Sharon explains, “whether that be make-up wipes, baby wipes, cleaning wipes – even the ones that say ‘flushable’ should not go down the toilet.” As the waste travels through the sewer network, it flows through sections she calls ‘egg-shaped barrels’ – lengths of tunnel which are narrower at the bottom and wider at the top. These create a more turbulent flow which breaks up regular toilet paper but, Sharon says, not wipes. “They catch on the pipes, or if there’s grease in the system they’ll stick to the grease, and that all starts to build up and before you know it you’ve got a blockage.”


Other ‘unflushables’ include... [read more]

 

Photo by Adam Bronkhorst

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